April 21, 2013

Urbanism and Japanese Architecture

When Japanese architecture is first mentioned, there are a few things that initially spring to one's mind. It’s likely to conjure thoughts of wooden huts lifted slightly above the ground, with beautiful brick tiles or elegant thatched roofs. You’ll probably think of sliding translucent panels that lead to intricate living spaces, where meals are eaten from cushions on the tatami mat floors with the whole family. While this life still exists in many parts of Japan, recent years have seen a huge increase in Western and post-modern influences. As visitors to this fascinating country will know, the architecture is diverse, and in many cases, highly technological and cutting edge - especially in the larger cities.

Tokyo Midtow - image source

You don’t have to look far in Japan to see its very successful attempts at urbanisation and leading an architectural revolution. Just a few of its many gems include the Sugamo Shinkin Bank, a multicoloured building in Tokyo that houses ATMs, a cafĂ©, and meeting rooms, Tokyo Midtown and its sprawling metropolis of high buildings, and The Giant Cocoon in Tokyo, which is currently the second tallest educational building in the world.

The Giant Cocoon - image source
Japan’s approach to architecture has become renowned all over the world. Famous architects including Antonin Raymond and Frank Lloyd Wright have visited Japan and are considered to be integral in the spreading of the style to the US. Though the cultures are of course very different, many designers have managed to strike the balance between the Japanese design and the Western requirement for functionality.

Inevitably, this relationship works both ways. In the last century,  specifically in the rebuilding ofter world war II, there has been pressure from Japanese bureaucrats to develop a more Westernized urban environment - utilizing contemporary materials and technological advances in building techniques to build large high density cities. 

What is your favourite example of Japanese design? Is there a particular architect that amazes you with their blending of traditional and contemporary architecture?

Traditional Japanese House - image source
This article was brought to you by Ruth Hinds on behalf of Tons of Tiles. ToT imports and supplies a wide range of quality ceramic and quartz tiles for bathrooms, kitchens, and any area of your house that you would like to improve. 

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